After several years of servings declines at restaurants and other foodservice channels, soup is on the rebound with U.S. consumers, reports The NPD Group. Total dollar sales of soup shipped through broadline foodservice distributors to foodservice operators increased by more than 2 percent in the year ending July 2013, compared to same period year ago, and unit shipments increased by 2 percent, according to NPD's SupplyTrack tracking service.

Soup dollar volume sales grew the most at eating and drinking establishments, which represent the largest share of the category's dollar sales, with a nearly 3 percent 12-month increase through July.

Dollar volume sales also grew in the non-commercial segment, which represents the second largest share, and retail foodservice outlets, which represents the third largest share of soup dollar sales. The lodging and recreation channels also realized dollar gains in the period.

Chili, refrigerated soup and soup base are the forms with the strongest dollar sales growth in the year. With respect to flavors, several varieties of chicken grew in dollars and units.

"Soup is an example of how understanding a category's market dynamics and performance metrics can identify a growth opportunity for distributors, manufacturers, and operators," said Annie Roberts, vice president, NPD SupplyTrack. "In the competitive foodservice marketplace where it's a battle for share, the ability to pinpoint white space and other ways to grow market share is key."

Read more about trends and statistics.

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